Escaping from Hunger Before WW1: Nutrition and Living Standards in Western Europe and USA in the Late Nineteenth Century

54 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Ian Gazeley

Ian Gazeley

University of Sussex

Rose Holmes

University of Sussex

Andrew Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Kevin P Reynolds

University of Sussex

Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos

University of Sussex

Abstract

We estimate calories available to workers' households in the USA, Belgium, Britain, France and Germany in 1890/1. We employ data from the United States Commissioner of Labor survey (see Haines, 1979) of workers in key export industries. We estimate that households in the USA, on average, had about five hundred daily calories per equivalent adult more than their French and German counterparts, with Belgian and British workers closer to the USA levels. We ask if that energy bonus gave the US workers more energy for work, and we conclude that, if stature is taken into account, workers in the US and UK probably had roughly the same level energy available for work, whereas the German and French workers most likely had significantly less. Finally we ask economic migration leads to taller children. To answer that we estimate the influence of children on calorie availability among ethnically British workers in the USA and, separately, among British workers in Britain. We find that US-based British households are at least as generous in terms of the provision of calories to their children as their Britain-based counterparts. Other things equal, this means that US-based British children would grow taller.

Keywords: living standards, nutrition, international comparisons, migration

JEL Classification: J11, J61, N30

Suggested Citation

Gazeley, Ian and Holmes, Rose and Newell, Andrew T. and Reynolds, Kevin P and Gutierrez Rufrancos, Hector, Escaping from Hunger Before WW1: Nutrition and Living Standards in Western Europe and USA in the Late Nineteenth Century. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11037. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3045733

Ian Gazeley (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/history/profile985.html

Rose Holmes

University of Sussex

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Andrew T. Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies ( email )

Falmer, Brightonm BN1 9QN
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1273 606755 (Phone)
+44 (0)1273 673563 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Kevin P Reynolds

University of Sussex ( email )

Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos

University of Sussex

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

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